Tonight, the PSU Nittany Lions Women's Volleyball team faces off again their counterparts at Texas Longhorns for the 2009 NCAA Women's Volleyball National Championship. Unless you have been living under a rock, you should already know that if they win, this will be the third in a row for the Lions. I figured this would be a good opportunity to get to know our foes.
But before I do that, I would be remiss not to mention that yesterday all around femme fatale on the volleyball court, Megan Hodge, was named the 2009 AVCA PLAYER OF THE YEAR. Megan was named BigTen POTY in both 2006 and 2009 and has been a First Team All-American in all four of her years at PSU. This is also the second year in a row a Nittany Lion has won this award. Last year Nicole Fawcett won the honors.
Now back to our regularly scheduled program.
There are a couple things you are going to hear about ad naseum during tonights game. First, the fact that this is PSU's third appearance. Yes. We know. Second, the names Hooker and Hodge. More about them later. Third, Texas was hoping for this match up last year and all season long.
Texas has been ranked second all year behind Penn State. In last years semifinals the third ranked Longhorns team lost to Stanford. In this years semifinals they swept Minnesota in three sets. This is a team you cannot count out in any set because they were down against the Gophers multiple times before coming back to win.
I made a pretty little excel spread sheet comparing Penn State and Texas (yes, PSUgirl, I am looking at stats again). The Nittany Lions and the Longhorns seem to be pretty much even looking at the statistics. PSU does have the advantage is a few categories like sets and blocking. And that advantage gets closer in the defense. Which leads me to believe this is going to be a hard fought match. One thing that does concern me is that we do have a slightly higher error precentage in serving, which one could see in the first set in the semifinals against Hawaii. Errors are just free points for opponents. However, Texas makes slightly more errors than we do and statistically, we make our opponents make more mistakes. Which is good.
Destine Hooker. If you haven't heard her name yet, get used to it, because you will hear it a lot tonight. Hooker (trying not to snicker here, but it's hard with her name) is the runner up to Hodge as the 2009 Player of the Year. And she is almost as good. They are both Left side Outside Hitters, so they will not be facing off against each other. But one thing I noticed while comparing their stats is that Hodge attacks slightly more, assists heck of a lot more and makes less errors, both in serving and ball handling. Hooker does block more, but when you have Blair Brown and Arielle Wilson, why in the world would you need to block?
I don't know about you, but I am excited to watch this game. Both teams are so closely matched that I think it will come down to who makes the fewest mistakes.
LET'S GO STATE!